Photography · Scotland · Travel

Friday photo: gnomes

While wandering around the Aberdeenshire village of Braemar last summer, I spotted the little chaps shown below looking out from the front window of a house near the Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park. Highland games are held in the park each September, attended by the Queen and various other royals. I wonder if any of the Royal Family have seen the gnomes as they’ve made their way into the park. I like to think so.

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Cheerful little gnomes on a window ledge in Braemar, Aberdeenshire.
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Garden · Nature · Photography · Scotland · Travel

Friday photo: burgeoning arch

Floors Castle, near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, is a magnificent old stately home sitting in splendid grounds. It has an excellent tearoom, garden centre and adventure playground, and the gardens round the back of the house are a delight to wander round. The archway shown below is one of the many attractive features of Floors: a profusion of greenery cascading over a stone wall leading into a paved courtyard.

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Burgeoning archway at Floors Castle, near Kelso in the Scottish Borders.
Photography · Travel

Friday photo: Dubai

When I went to have my hair cut this morning I learned that my hairdresser had just returned from holiday in Dubai. She told me how she’d spent her time there: bouncing around on sand dunes in a 4×4, camel riding, visiting a race track and scaring herself on a roller-coaster. It was all a bit different from my memories of Dubai, where I worked for a while in the dry docks. The brownish lump of steel shown below on the right hand side of the picture is the hull of the Asima, the ship I was working on.

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Large lumps of steel in Dubai Dry Docks.
Photography

Friday photo: a very fancy biscuit

I completely forgot to do a Friday photo last week so I’m posting two today. I recently received an unexpected and splendid present through the post from a friend. The first photo shows the outer packaging and the second shows the contents. It fairly delighted my heart to gaze upon this exceptionally fancy gift and I have no qualms about eating it, because the least I can do is allow it to fulfil its destiny. I bit into it this morning and discovered it was chocolate flavoured and utterly delicious.

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A beautifully designed box containing a tasty treat.
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The fanciest biscuit I’ve ever been given.
Garden · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: peaceful garden

Today’s choice of photo was inspired by the book mentioned in my previous post. The garden shown below is Glenwhan, a beautiful retreat in the quiet area of Galloway, on Scotland’s south-west coast. To my mind, a peaceful garden features a predominance of green, enlivened with small splashes of colour. There’s something soothing about green foliage, in its vast array of shades and textures. Benefiting from a relatively warm, wet climate, Glenwhan is a haven of lush, restful greenery: a refreshingly peaceful garden.

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A grassy path winds its way round a pond at Glenwhan Gardens, Galloway, May 2017.

 

Book review · Garden · Non-fiction

Book review: “Peaceful gardens” by Stephanie Donaldson

When I finished reading ‘Peaceful gardens’ I felt a sense of disappointment. I turned the page thinking there was more to come, only to find I had reached the end. I got this book out of the library, but have enjoyed it so much I’d like to buy a copy to read again.

‘Peaceful gardens’ is what might be described as a coffee table book, full of lovely photos with detailed captions, interspersed with more general text about gardening. Although the front cover is not terribly appealing, the illustrations inside are quite the reverse.

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‘Peaceful gardens’ by Stephanie Donaldson (2003)

The author, Stephanie Donaldson, was Gardens Editor for Country Living magazine for many years, and has written a number of other gardening books. Although clearly a knowledgeable gardener, her writing style is easily accessible to novice gardeners like myself. I’ve often been put off gardening books by too much jargon and technical detail; ‘Peaceful gardens’, by contrast, introduces ideas and tips about gardening almost without the reader noticing they’re being instructed. That’s my sort of gardening lesson.

The book is divided into three main sections: ‘peaceful shapes and spaces’, ‘tranquillity for the senses’ and ‘scent and sound’, all beautifully illustrated with photographs giving clear examples of what’s being described in the text. There are ideas and suggestions for rural and urban gardens, although the book struck me as being more heavily weighted towards rural or semi-rural gardens that might have space for a variety of features in versatile areas. The text is well worth reading, and nicely written, but even if all you did was look at the pictures you could easily find inspiration and joy in its contents.

Each year, at the start of spring, I have an urge to do something in the garden. I want to see things growing after the long winter months, but my enthusiasm often wanes rather quickly when tasks seem too daunting or the weather’s not conducive to pottering around outside. Perhaps this year ‘Peaceful gardens’ will provide the impetus I need to fulfil some of my gardening dreams in the months to come.

Photography · Scotland · Travel

Friday photo: Forth Road Bridge

There are three bridges across the Firth of Forth on the east coast of Scotland, linking Edinburgh to the south with Fife to the north. Of these three, one (the iconic red Forth Rail Bridge, opened in 1890) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and another (the bright white Queensferry Crossing, opened in 2017) is the world’s longest three-tower cable-stayed bridge. Sitting between these two impressive structures is the Forth Road Bridge, opened in 1964. It may not be as striking as either of its more visually stimulating neighbours, but the Forth Road Bridge has its own graceful greyness.

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A grey bridge against a grey sky: the Forth Road Bridge, seen from the Queensferry Hotel, North Queensferry, Fife.